- Alumnae Spotlight
Margaret Pozzo '86
“Speaking Chinese gave me the adventure of a lifetime and allowed me to get to know a country I would not have been able to otherwise.”
“Parlez-vous français?” Margaret Pozzo has been able to answer “Oui” since the 1st Grade, and language has been an enormous factor in her work and in her life. Pozzo set off from six years at Marlborough to the University of Pennsylvania to…frustration! Upon entering, she could not get the courses she had in mind and, having been given a catalog at registration, found the book had fallen open to a page with “Chinese History” class at the top…and it had an opening! “I think that I also admired the Chinese culture subconsciously, as one of my best friends from Marlborough, Dr. Dina Lew, is Chinese…and other Chinese girls in my class were so committed to their studies and exceptionally smart.” Pozzo earned a degree in Chinese Studies from the College of Art and Science and International Finance and Management from the Wharton School of Business. During her time at Wharton, Pozzo also launched her study of the Chinese language, challenging because at first she spoke it with a French accent. Her junior year abroad took her to Nanjing University, a grim experience of witnessing firsthand “a country ruined by Mao’s Cultural Revolution…this was during the time of mass demonstrations throughout China that eventually led to the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. I escaped Nanjing by rickshaw two days after the Beijing massacre.”
Between her fourth and fifth year at Penn, Pozzo held an internship in Taiwan at the Swire Group, an old British trading group, which lead to a job in Hong Kong, where she would live for the next 18 years. She was hired by Lehman Brothers as an investment banker, working on a new product called Dragon Bonds. “The biggest deal we did was the Dragon Bonds issued by the People’s Republic of China, the first time ever that the Chinese government had issued a bond in a currency other than Renminbi.” Pozzo’s ability to speak fluent Chinese was critical to her years in investment banking and later fund management. “Speaking Chinese gave me the adventure of a lifetime and allowed me to get to know a country I would not have been able to otherwise.”
While at Lehman Brothers, Pozzo met her husband, Ben De Somma, who also speaks Chinese and French! They married in 1995 and have three Hong Kong-born children. Looking ahead before her first child was born, Pozzo changed her career to fund management (investment bankers work 100+ hours a week; her new position required only 10 to 12 hours per day!). After the birth of her child, Pozzo shifted gears and worked “part time” as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations for DVN Holdings, a Chinese digital broadcasting company, taking the company’s story, in Chinese, to primarily English-speaking investors.
In 2004, Pozzo’s passion for skiing changed the family’s lives. They traveled to Niseko, a ski resort on Hokkaido, Japan’s most northerly island. Pozzo had been a skier since the age of three and was on the downhill team at Penn. The family found the resort to have horrible accommodations, but “great potential as a major ski destination for people living in Asia,” so she set up Tancho Investments in 2005 to develop luxury housing in Niseko, now one of Asia’s most popular ski resorts. In 2008, “we moved back to America, due to the increasingly unbearable levels of pollution in Hong Kong. Our three children…have settled well into the American lifestyle, however we all miss Asia, our friends there, and the experiences that come from living abroad. Speaking Chinese has given me the opportunity to live a very adventurous life, become a global citizen, and look for opportunities well beyond America’s borders.”